8 months have passed since Buffy saw her Watcher — the man who was more like a dad to her than her own flesh and blood father — her teacher, her mentor, her friend... since she’d seen him killed right before her eyes. She could still hear the sound of his neck bones snapping.
Buffy often found herself seeking out noisy scenes — random rock concerts, construction sites, shooting galleries… as if she could drown out the sound. But the sound was a memory. And it echoed louder than any jet engine, jack-hammer, or guitar amp feedback.
There were times in her most agonizing moments of grief that she thought she’d simply go mad. She knew that even if she went deaf, she’d still hear it. His death. Giles was dead. A piece of her heart was destroyed the night he died. A piece that would never heal. Could never heal. It was like the wind had been knocked out of her and she was still trying to catch her breath.
They’d fought of course. Her relationship with Giles hadn’t always been rosy. But the love was always there, even when they weren’t speaking to one another. Even when she felt she almost hated him… underneath it all was a bond unlike any other.
Today was one of her numb days. A day when she mostly went on with everyday life, somehow, and then something… a whiff of someone's Earl Grey tea… and the memories flooded in, and she missed him with a piercing pain like she’d swallowed a shard of glass that had lodged itself in her heart. The pain was often still too much to bear, so she compensated by going numb when it threatened to overwhelm her.
Tonight she was out walking, not caring where, just needing to move her body. Needing to distract herself from memories that kept trying to claw their way into her consciousness. She hoped to come across a demon or vamp misbehaving. So she could let off steam, and channel the feelings that wanted to pull her down and drown her.
But the vamps and demons were on vacation or something. Ass-holes.
In a military prison cell somewhere in… he actually had no bloody idea where they had him. He only knew he was underground, and hadn’t seen the light of day in weeks. And they called him a monster!
Ethan Rayne had heard through the grapevine that his old pal Ripper had been killed. He expected to feel some sense of satisfaction, and was shocked to find himself grieving. Ripper…his frenemy. They both seemed to love to hate each other. Ethan realized he didn’t have much interest in a world without Rupert Giles in it. Who would be there to tut-tut at Ethan's fun?
Ethan was imprisoned not just by bars, but also by some magical wards. But, interestingly, the warlocks who’d been hired to cast the wards had only done basic ones to stop him from escaping or harming his captors and the like. They’d somehow neglected to stop him from being able to cause other sorts of magical mischief.
So, perhaps predictably, Ethan conjured up some dark magic from memory in an effort to bring his friend back from the dead.
Buffy felt so restless, and she could feel tears threatening. She didn’t want to cry anymore. Not tonight. She just wanted a brief respite from the grief that still ebbed and flowed like the tide.
She passed a pub and checked out the alley. Empty. No baddies in sight. Sigh.
On a whim, she decided to go into the pub. “Beer bad,” she mentally reminded herself as she pushed open the door. She scanned the bar. All human. Double sigh. Buffy sat down at the bar.
“What can I get you?” said the barkeep.
“Beer bad,” mumbled Buffy.
“Eh?” The bartender seemed easily confused.
“I think she said the beer’s bad,” said a male voice. “And I’m sure she’s right. Feels like a gin and tonic night to me. Will you join me for one?” he directed his question at Buffy, smiling.
Something about his English accent caught her attention right away. And something about his eyes made her smile despite herself. She still wasn’t sure that drinking was a good idea… she had bad luck when it came to booze. After a slight hesitation, she said, “Okay.”
They sat at a table together. Buffy eyed her drink with suspicion. Then she picked up the glass and sniffed it. Then she took a tentative sip of her first gin and tonic. Hmmm. Not bad.
When she looked over at her new companion, he was smirking at her, bemused. “You’re a bit odd.” He said with a slight tilt of his head, and a mixture of humour and what seemed to be genuine appreciation.
He leaned across the table towards her. “Call me Reg. What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you Buffy.”
For some reason, Buffy felt at ease with Reg right away. Conversation flowed easily between them. Though she had planned to leave after the one drink, they ended up closing the bar 4 hours after they’d met. He offered to walk her home, and she decided to let him. When he dropped her off and turned to leave, on impulse she invited him in.
End of part 1
*banner image by katekat1010, generously shared and orginally posted here
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Check out Ain't No Sunshine, a Giles/Faith BTVS fanfic series.